For the last couple of days, and continuing for the next few days, I have been and will be looking at each team in the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders. The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season. The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch. Feel free to brows back to see previous teams, and look for more teams in the coming days.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Chutes: Sami Salo – After failing to play 70 games in any season for almost a decade, Salo was relatively healthy in 2013, missing only 2 games. That means that if past history is any indication, Salo is in for a long time on the DL this season. His production has declined since the lockout, with a pickup last season because of his relative level of health. Its hard to give him a consistent role because you aren’t quite sure game to game what his health status is.
Ladders: Valtteri Filppula - He might be stepping into the rather large shadow of Steven Stamkos, but he got out of the shadow of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. With the constant shuffling of lines in Detroit, Filppula was never able to find a consistent role. In Tampa he will be the second line centre, and should know what his role is. That consistency will only benefit the Finn.